John Barnes died at home in Olga on Friday, Jan. 17, in the company of a few close friends. John chose to make his journey into dying a conscious, shared celebration. Together with friends and well-wishers, he conjured many magical months of loving connections, showing how dying – with all its fear, uncertainty, pain and difficulty – can be a great adventure, filled with richness and life.
John is survived by an adult daughter Melissa in California. In addition, he is survived by the Glasser family, by Lois Christensen, by many of his close friends, and by Orcas Island as a community. John was also a longtime member of the Orcas Oddfellows.
Born July 4, 1952, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, John celebrated his 61st birthday after 24 years on Orcas Island with a music festival “Johnstock” in his honor. John’s long-time friends Norman Flint, Bruce Harvie, Andy Wickstrand and Jesse Anderson all worked together to make this music festival the success it was.
“It was a dream of Norman’s. He wrote it down and it pretty much happened the way he wrote it,” John said. “I want to thank the community for coming out and embracing Johnstock and making it the best last birthday a person could have.”
One of the highlights of the festival was John coming to the microphone to sing Arlo Gurthrie’s Motorcycle Song along with Bruce Harvie and the Red Tide. (Note: You can Google “johnstock motorcycle,” watch the video, and you’re there.)
John’s great loves were art, music and motorcycles.
“For so many years my stained glass was my outlet for my artistic passion,” he said. “When my hands started to fail me, I turned my passion toward larger works of art – my motorcycles.”
“I’ve never known the feeling of belonging as I have known it from the first minute I was on this island. In all my 24 years I was always aware that I belonged here and that the island would take care of me, and it has.”
“What I want to say to people, the way I want them to remember me, is to make sure we preserve this island – a special place to live in, a special community. Don’t take this lightly. If you choose to live here, you choose to be a part of this community. You need to honor this place, your home.”
“I can’t express it enough – my gratitude to the island, to the people. Love one another. If you miss me, think of the last hug you got from me, and know I’ll be waiting on the other side.”
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s name to “Save the Seaview,” at www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-sea-view-theatre. A celebration of John’s life will be held in the near future at the Odd Fellows Hall. Watch for updates.